Legacy of Ipswich legend Kevin Beattie lives on through fan-run charity
- Credit: Archant
A charity set up in memory of Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie is celebrating its successes as it looks to an even brighter future.
The Kevin Beattie Foundation was formed following the legendary defender's death in 2018 by close friend Malcolm Thompson, alongside Kevin's daughter Emma, former player Tommy Miller, Town fan Ray Slegg and Source One chairman Patrick Lewis.
It has since gone on to raise thousands for good causes across the country in a bid to keep his legacy alive.
Malcolm, a life-long Blues fan, remembers the day he lost his hero and friend well.
"I was having a drink in my local area admiring the seafront when I received a call that shook me up and reduced me to tears," he said.
"The person at the other end was uncontrollable also as they told me that Kevin had passed away.
"I was numb, shaking and for whatever reason I started Googling as I couldn't or wouldn't believe it.
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"That day was horrible as people when news broke were sending me messages, calling or coming up to me in person and hugging."
The Carlisle-born centre half had been a hero of Malcolm growing up, having travelled the country to watch him play before becoming close friends and hosting charity nights at the Drum and Monkey.
He was never one to shy away from having his picture taken with fans, and remained a prominent face around the club following his retirement in the late 1980s.
That connection with the fans, Malcolm said, is what made Kevin want to be remembered as someone who gave back to those who would chant his name.
Malcolm said: "I was then lucky enough to become friends with Kevin and we shared many moments up and down the country – the passion he had for Ipswich Town was second to none.
"The relationship he formed with the Town fanbase is one I have not seen since. Every fan wanted a photo, every fan wanted a chat, every fan wanted to buy Kevin a beer. He was so loved and still is hence the foundation.
"Kevin once said to me that he hoped his name would always help others – and I at the time thought he meant always in the history books and he said no, 'help others like you do with all your charity nights'."
Malcolm later completed his "Sore Feet for the Beat" challenge with a friend, walking from Kevin's birthplace in Carlisle to Portman Road to help raise funds for the EADT-led campaign for a statue of the defender outside the stadium.
Malcolm said: "By this time the statue had been paid for, and I had a flashback of what Kevin said about helping others so it was a no brainer to start a Kevin Beattie Foundation.
"With his family's blessing and tremendous help from the PFA we walked unaided and with no support over 311 miles in two weeks.
"Carlisle United were a great help and the chairman of their supporters group walked the first 10 miles with us.
"There were times I wished Kevin was born in Stowmarket as to make the walk easier but thanks to the fantastic Town fans we raised £3k, which is what we needed to get the foundation set up."
The charity was formed in December, and has since gone on to raise more than £1,000 for East Anglia's Children's Hospices, £850 for three brothers living with muscular dystrophy and £150 for the Injured Jockey Fund.
It has also held various charity raffles, including one now taking place for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Top horse trainer Richard Fahey also allowed one of his horses to be named in honour of the charity – Beattie is Back – and is hoped to compete in the future.
Later in the year, the charity will host an evening with Jim Magilton and Matt Holland, as well as a charity game involving former Town players and TV stars in aid of the NHS and Offside Trust.
The statue of Kevin, organised by the EADT/Ipswich Star, BBC Radio Suffolk and the TWTD website, is hoped to be unveiled this summer.
More information on Malcolm's charity can be found here.